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Northern heat had sent suspects south

WALSENBURG — According to local law enforcement sources, the manhunt for suspects in a string of Colorado Springs area daylight burglaries sent the alleged suspects south seeking sanctuary in the San Luis Valley. Nathaniel Flavio Gonzales and Gino Patrick Rael, both 20, and a 16-year old male were captured by area law enforcement officials after they abandoned their crashed car last week in Walsenburg. On Thursday, January 2, SWAT officers and El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a search of the Elm Crest Mobile Home Park near Highway 85/87 and Las Vegas Street in Colorado Springs. A spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said both Gonzales and Rael live at the home. Lt. Jeff Kramer said the two men are prime suspects in burglaries from the Rockrimmon area of Colorado Springs to Security. The mobile home park was evacuated while deputies, the SWAT team, and the bomb squad searched for the men. Detectives were working off information that the two may have had hand grenades inside the mobile home. A second search was happening at a home in the downtown area that same afternoon, but the suspects weren’t located at that address either. Colorado Springs Police Department Property Crime Detectives with both the Falcon and Stetson Patrol Divisions have been investigating a series of daytime residential burglaries occurring throughout Colorado Springs. Suspects committing the crimes have been ringing the doorbell or knocking on the front door of the residences. When there is no answer, they go around to the back of the home and force entry through windows or doors. The investigation determined Rael and his associates have been committing these crimes. There are active felony warrants for his arrest regarding this investigation, Colorado Springs police said last week. Also wanted in connection with the crime spree was Gonzales, who is an associate of Gino Rael. Gonzales has a felony arrest warrant for False Information to a Pawn Broker relating to this investigation, a press release from the CSPD said. Authorities considered both Rael and Gonzales armed and dangerous as weapons have been stolen during some of these crimes. Additional charges and arrests are anticipated as the investigation continues, said officials in Colorado Springs. The pair and their 16-year old companion had fled further into southern Colorado to avoid capture, according to Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen. They had gone into the Alamosa and San Luis area of the San Luis Valley, he said, but they were unable to find a place to hide out with associates they had there due to the pressure the Colorado Springs and El Paso County investigators were putting on them. That led them to leave the Valley and head back north last week when they crashed their car in front of the Walsenburg Dollar General Store on Walsen Avenue around 6:30 pm Tuesday, January 7. Surveillance video from adjacent businesses show the trio jumping from the vehicle moments after the crash. Gonzales was arrested as he walked north on I-25 between 12:30 and 1 am January 8, and Rael, along with the 16-year old, were also arrested as they walked along the Interstate highway at about 6:30 am the same day. Colorado Springs detectives interviewed the trio while they were in custody in Huerfano County last week and assisted local police in writing the search warrant for the crashed vehicle. Authorities have not released what kind of evidence was seized in the search of the vehicle. As of the beginning of this week both adult suspects remained in custody in Huerfano County, although Barbara Miller, CSPD PIO (Public Information Officer) said she expected they will be transferred to El Paso County very soon. She said the investigation is in ‘full swing’, and investigators hope for additional arrests. Gonzales and Rael were arrested on the active felony warrants. The 16-year old was held on a warrant for failure to comply on a two-year old burglary arrest. The juvenile suspect may also face a local charge of criminal impersonation for allegedly lying to authorities about his identity. Gonzales is being held on $10,000 bond on the El Paso County warrant and Rael’s warrant bond has been set at $100,000 (cash or surety).